The head of WhatsApp, Will Cathcart, stated on Twitter that NSO’s Pegasus was used to “commit terrible human rights violations” around the world and “must be stopped” in response to an investigation conducted by a global media consortium, which revealed that the spyware was used. For espionage about activists and journalists. India is considered one of more than 50 countries where spyware is used as a cyber surveillance weapon. In 2019, WhatsApp sued Israel’s NSO group for exploiting a vulnerability in its application to allow its Pegasus malware to access user devices.
Cascade urge In the tirades on Twitter, human rights defenders, technology companies, and the government must work together to improve user security and hold entities that abuse Pegasus spyware accountable.
“This is a wake-up call for Internet security,” he said. “Mobile phones are the primary computers for billions of people. Governments and companies must do their best to ensure that they are as safe as possible.”
In 2019, @WhatsApp Discovered and defeated an attack from NSO. They rely on unknown vulnerabilities in mobile operating systems, which is one of the reasons why we think raising awareness of what we find is so important. https://t.co/iSMuwLrKpJ
— Will Cascart (@wcathcart) July 18, 2021
Pegasus first gained attention in May 2019 for spying on activists, advocates, journalists, and senior government officials in 20 countries, including India. It used the known vulnerabilities that WhatsApp fixed before it was made public to infiltrate Android and iOS devices. the goal.
A few months after the spy case was reported, WhatsApp filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of Pegasus, NSO Group. The Facebook-owned company also worked with the Internet regulator Citizen Lab to identify more than 100 cases of abusive attacks on activists and journalists in more than 20 countries.
Cathcart points out that the latest revelations show that the true scale of abuse is even higher.
“We need more companies, especially the government, to take steps to make NSO Group accountable,” he said. “We once again urge the world to suspend the use of irresponsible surveillance technology.”
The new investigation is based on a large-scale data breach. It was conducted by 16 media organizations including The Wire in India and global media such as the Washington Post and The Guardian. The investigation revealed that Pegasus was used to monitor more than a thousand activists, journalists, and businesses. Executives, government officials, politicians, etc.
According to security researchers, spyware can be installed on mobile phones by exploiting a common vulnerability. Once installed, it can transmit data such as text messages, emails and even chats from applications including WhatsApp to attackers. It can also provide GPS data to let attackers know the location details of their targets.
The NSO Group insists that it designed Pegasus only to monitor criminals and terrorists. However, the latest investigations by media organizations and findings in 2019 indicate that spyware continues to be abused, targeting intellectuals with no criminal background.